Master in Visual Anthropology


Program Description

Are you interested in human culture and how to use the video camera in social scientific research? At Visual Anthropology you are given the opportunity to study ethnographic research methods, anthropological theory, and ethnographic filmmaking in an international environment, culminating with the production of your very own film and written thesis.

Program description

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Credits (ECTS): 120
  • Admission requirements: Bachelor's degree social, visual, or cultural anthropology and statement of purpose
  • Degree Name: Master of Philosophy in Visual Anthropology
  • Application code:
    • Norwegian and Nordic applicants: 5057
    • International applicants: 2038

The Department of Social Science offers a two-year full-time Master's program in Visual Anthropology. This program aims to teach students how to produce knowledge about people's lives and cultures through an exploration of their everyday lives based on the use of qualitative social science research methods and ethnographic film. The program combines lectures in academic theory and method, filmmaking, and practical instruction in camerawork, sound recording, and editing.

The students at the Master's program follow a set of courses the first two semesters before they travel on fieldwork. Based on this fieldwork, the students write a Master's Thesis and make an ethnographic film. For a complete setup of the program, please refer to the Programme structure below.

The films produced at Visual Anthropology are well known for their quality. Every year several films are selected for international documentary and ethnographic film festivals. The originality of the program has led to a special educational prize from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, and a further award for educational quality from the Ministry of Education.

Learning outcomes

After completing successfully the programme, students are expected to have acquired the following learning outcomes.


The candidate:

  • has knowledge of the evolution of the social scientific tradition in general, and advanced knowledge of theoretical perspectives within the field of Visual anthropology especially.
  • has a thorough knowledge of the region and/or the field where his/her proper Master project takes place and solid knowledge of the cutting edge of his/her Master project's theme.
  • has a thorough knowledge of ethnographic research methodology and the different steps in a research process that involves the use of the video camera.
  • can apply the acquired methods and theoretical perspectives in the description and analyses of new areas within the academic field of Visual Anthropology.
  • can reflect critically on the use of different film languages and narrative structures as `ways of knowing' in specific historical and societal contexts.
  • has technical knowledge of how to handle and use the recording and editing equipment for video.


The candidate:

  • can in a systematic way manage, process, and analyze critically material from various sources and use them to structure and formulate a written scholarly argument.
  • Is able to capture the narrative conceptualizations of their field partners by the use of video and create intelligible narrative strategies with a future audience in mind.
  • is able to demonstrate how film and text mutually inform, inspire, and contradict each other, and critically evaluate the role of film in the creation of social scientific knowledge.
  • can under supervision carry out an independent research project which makes use of participant observation and audiovisual tools, with applicable norms for research ethics.
  • is able to make use of video as a tool in the acquisition and dissemination of social scientific knowledge.

General competences

The candidate:

  • is able to identify, analyze, and discuss different theoretical and methodological approaches to their own empirical material and apply it in the description and analysis of other sociocultural phenomena.
  • masters the language and terminology of visual socio-cultural research and can communicate to colleagues, partners, and public audiences, the methodological/analytical approaches used in- and the final results of- his/her own work.
  • is able to build up responsibility towards partners in the field and thereby a profound consciousness of the ethics and potentials for the empowerment of research and dissemination.
  • can contribute to new thinking and innovation processes based on the exploration of the possible potentials of visual and analytical tools.
  • is independently able to apply audiovisual tools creatively and critically to enhance/clarify their story narratives within a social science framework.

Job prospectives

A degree in Visual Anthropology can open doors to a variety of national and international positions in social research, television and film production, administration, communication, museums, youth and education programs, etc. Studying in such an international environment develops competencies in cross-cultural communication as well as valuable assets to a number of career options.

Program structure

Term 10 credits 10 credits
First term (autumn)
SVF-3101 Approaching Social Realities: Understanding Other Peoples' Life-worlds
SVF-3102 Conveying social realities: Exploring audio-visual narrative strategies
Second term (spring)
SVF-3109 Anthropological Theory and Ethnographic Praxis
SVF-3107 Visual Ethnography and Ways of Knowing
Third term (autumn)
SVF-3903 From Fieldwork Experience to Ethnographic Film and Text
SVF-3903 From Fieldwork Experience to Ethnographic Film and Text
Fourth term (spring) SVF-3903 From Fieldwork Experience to Ethnographic Film and Text SVF-3903 From Fieldwork Experience to Ethnographic Film and Text

Admission requirements

Admission to the Master of Philosophy in Visual Anthropology requires a Bachelor's degree (180 ECTS) or equivalent qualification with a minimum of 80 ECTS in anthropology, sociology, ethnology, folklore, cultural studies, visual media/communication, visual culture, or other closely related fields of study. Applicants must enclose a statement of purpose written in English (maximum of two pages). This statement must include the purpose of and interest in pursuing the master's degree program, especially why you find visual anthropology interesting. It should also include a short description of a proposed master thesis project. Any experience from film making should also be mentioned in the motivation letter. An average grade equivalent to C or better within the Norwegian grading system is required for Bachelor's degree or equivalent issued in Europe, Canada, USA, Australia, and New Zealand; And an average grade equivalent to B or better within the Norwegian grading system is required for Bachelor's degree or equivalent issued in all other countries.

Applicants from Norway or Nordic countries:

The application deadline for Norwegian and other Nordic applicants is:

  • 15 April for admission to the autumn semester.

Applicants from outside the Nordic countries:

The application deadline for international applicants is:

  • 1 December for admission to the autumn semester. 

Online application, study code 2038

Teaching and assessment

The program is organized as a continuous participatory learning process: lectures, screenings, writing and filming assignments, and seminars make up the unique cumulative learning process of the two-year course. Students are encouraged to collaborate with each other in developing skills and understandings throughout the study.

The program includes various types of examinations and coursework requirements, such as essays, research papers, and film presentations. Please note that some courses have coursework requirements. Only students whose coursework requirements have been approved will be allowed to sit the examination.

Teaching and assessment methods are described in the course plan for each course.

Students are not allowed to use private equipment. The university's film and editing equipment and software must be used in all classes for both coursework assignments and Master's film.

This Master's degree is an intensive program. All courses are compulsory and demand active participation from the students.

Access to further studies

On successful completion of the degree program, students may be qualified for admission to a Ph.D. program in a number of academic areas at the UiT The Arctic University of Norway or elsewhere.

Last updated Jan 2021

About the School

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a medium-sized research university that contributes to knowledge-based development at the regional, national, and international levels.

UiT The Arctic University of Norway is a medium-sized research university that contributes to knowledge-based development at the regional, national, and international levels. Read less
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